Human Development Report 2015

Work for Human Development


From a human development perspective, the notion of work is broader and deeper than that of jobs or employment alone. The jobs framework fails to capture many kinds of work that have important human development implications —as with care work, voluntary work and such creative expression as writing or painting.

The links between work and human development are synergistic. Work enhances human development by providing incomes and livelihoods, by reducing poverty, and by ensuring equitable growth. It also allows people to participate fully in society while affording them a sense of dignity and worth. And work that involves caring for others builds social cohesion and strengthens bonds within families and communities.

But there is no automatic link between work and human development and that some work , such as forced labour, can damage human development by violating human rights, shattering human dignity, and sacrificing freedom and autonomy. Some work, such as work in hazardous industries, also puts people at risk. And without proper policies, work ’s unequal opportunities and rewards can be divisive, perpetuating inequities in society.

Work can enhance human development when policies expand productive, remunerative, satisfying and quality work opportunities — enhance workers’ skills and potential — ensure their right s, safety, and well-being — and specific strategies are targeted to particular issues and groups of people. But it would also require pursuing an action agenda for a New Social Contract, a Global Deal and Decent Work.


"UNDP. 2015. Human Development Report 2015: Work for Human Development. New York."